“It’s nearing completion,” said Phil Smith, president and CEO of the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the agency managing the county facility.
Rain - and snow - has set back work on the facilities, , Smith said in responses to emailed questions. The complex is under construction near Ohio 741 and Greentree Road, on the northwest corner of the Union Village planned community.
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The park is to feature 12 multi-use grass fields, four all-grass baseball diamonds, two multi-purpose synthetic turf fields and two synthetic turf baseball fields, as well as two headquarters buildings, concession stands and restroom facilities. The park will be ringed with walking trails.
Weather permitting, Smith said the complex should open in late spring or early summer.
The first phase of the Union Village community is under construction too. It includes the downtown center and more than 100 residences, across Ohio 741 from the Otterbein SeniorLife main campus. Houses should start appearing this summer.
“We’ll complement what they’re doing by providing a great deal of exposure,” Smith said. “Our destination sports park is designed to draw approximately 700,000 visitors annually to Warren County – to shop in our retail stores, dine in our restaurants, and stay in our hotels. We think those visitors will be impressed with Union Village, and we’re excited to be a part of what it will become.”
The sports park includes a west wing, along Ohio 741, and east wing, along Greentree Road, which runs from just outside Lebanon to Interstate 75.
“The west wing is nearly finished, ” Smith said, “and the east wing should be finished by late spring or early summer.”
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The county government is financing the development principally with a 4-percent lodgings tax, including 1 percent added specifically for the project.
Half of up to $16 million in debt taken on for the project has been refinanced through the Ohio Communities Accelerator Fund.
The fund was recently created by the Warren County Port Authority, which is overseeing the construction.
Construction continued despite concerns by neighbors living across Greentree Road and historians convinced the site included remains from the Union Village Shaker community, perhaps Shaker pottery shards in an old privy.
Consultants determined there was nothing worth saving on the land, Smith said.
“There were Shaker privies,” said Mary Allen, a Shaker expert for the Warren County Historical Society. “There might not have been anything there.”
Now Allen and other historians are hoping someone will preserve the former Greentree Inn, a brick house at the corner of Greentree and 741.
The house, built in 1813, according to property records, and 17.5 acres are listed for $1.3 million. The property is zoned for commercial use, although most recently was used as a residence.
Allen said a Shaker couple left the community and moved into the house before the community broke up around 1800.
“They lived right on the edge of the Shaker territory and ran a tavern,” Allen said.
He said he hopes someone buys and preserves the home site.
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Jenny Howard, the Realtor listing the property, said the 3,200-square-foot house would need extensive renovations and the listing was focused more on the sites value as a commercial development.
“It’s just going to take some deep pockets, I think,” Howard said.
Later this year, sports teams from around the country will be competing on fields on both sides of the historical corner property.
“We need to complete the turf on the two international-sized soccer fields and the two baseball fields, finish the concession building, complete the four baseball fields south of the main entrance, and complete the asphalt south of the main entrance,” Smith said.